Schaumburg's Woodfield trolley fleet replaced
After 16½ years and one controversial refurbishment, Schaumburg's fleet of Woodfield-area trolleys from Pace Suburban Bus has been replaced this month at no extra cost to the village.
The second generation of the iconic dark-green trolleys retains its predecessor's historic appearance while adding new amenities, such as wi-fi, low-floor ramps for improved accessibility, security cameras, a modern GPS system and bike racks for up to two bicycles each.
Though actually buses, the seven new vehicles mimic the appearance of old-fashioned trolleys similar to the first wave launched by Pace in January 2001.
The trolleys stop at the Schaumburg Convention Center, Roosevelt University, IKEA, Woodfield Village Green, Woodfield Mall, three locations at Streets of Woodfield and the Pace Northwest Transportation Center.
Based on the current three-year average, the Woodfield trolleys provide approximately 25,000 rides per year, according to the village's transportation department.
Though village officials are pleased with the trolleys' performance, some soul-searching occurred back in 2010 when a costly rehabilitation to extend the vehicles' lives coincided with negotiations to renew the contract with Pace.
Some village board members took up the argument of the trolleys' appeal to out-of-town visitors and seniors, while others decried the rising costs.
"It was a lot of money, and the service at that time was kind of up and down and we weren't happy with it," said Trustee Tom Dailly, who chairs the village's transportation committee. "(Today) we've got good ridership."
Among the factors that settled the debate and bought at least a short-term future for the trolleys was Pace's offer during the contract renegotiation to take on more of the maintenance costs.
While public buses are generally expected to have a life span of 12 years, the upgrades the original trolleys went through at 6 and 12 years old helped extend their operating lives, village officials said.
But the dilemma of seven years ago stands in stark contrast to the relatively easy replacement of the fleet this summer.
"I think the biggest difference was there was no village expense associated with this upgrade," Schaumburg Transportation Director Karyn Robles said. "Pace paid for 100 percent."
The trolleys provide daily service from Memorial Day to Labor Day and from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. During the rest of the year, service is Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.